Coney Island Blog - News

Mathylde Frontus

The Coney Island History Project congratulates Mathylde Frontus on her remarkable victory in the New York State Assembly race! We have worked with Mathylde on projects in the past, including a presentation about Coney Island’s African-American History, and on Coney Island Anti-Violence measures.  For our Oral History Archive, we interviewed Mathylde in July last year about growing up in Coney Island as the eldest child of Haitian immigrant parents who instilled a love of learning and community service. The interview can be listened to online here.

posted Nov 8th, 2018 in News and tagged with Mathylde Frontus, New York State Assembly, Election,...

Astroland Remembered Photo Contest

In September, we asked you to share your favorite photos of yourself, family, friends or fans at Astroland taken anytime from 1962 through 2008 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Astroland Park’s closing. Thanks to all who took the time to look through their albums and enter the Astroland Remembered Photo Contest and for voting for your favorites! Photos ranged from childhood snapshots on kiddie rides to professional quality photographs of the park’s memorable attractions and poignant last day. We’re pleased to announce the winning photos, which will be exhibited at the Coney Island History Project next season on Coney Island's Opening Day – April 14, 2019. Congratulations! The People’s Choice and Jury’s Choice winners will receive a signed copy of Charles Denson’s book Coney Island and Astroland and tickets for the Coney Island History Project Walking Tour.

Astroland Remembered Photo Contest

People’s Choice Winner: Emmy Chindemi, “Early 70’s Kiddie Park”

“I was born in Brooklyn and yes, that is me and my sister sitting on the bear, I’m the one in the front my sister Joann is behind me. I believe I was 7 years old. My parents would always take us to Coney Island, I have a lot of favorite rides I loved, but the one thing I remember was the giant astronaut, in fact I might have a picture of me and my sisters sitting on his boot.”

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Astroland Remembered Photo Contest

Jury’s Choice Winner: Lou Dembrow, “Astroman”

“The closing of Astroland was an event that moved me deeply. I made a movie about Jimmy Prince and I experiencing it. “Astroman” embodies Coney Island’s democratic spirit of FREE TO BE ME! I began seriously photographing Coney Island in 2007. Harvey Stein, my teacher at the International Center of Photography, took us there in the 90's.”

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Astroland Remembered Photo Contest

Honorable Mention: Bruce Sherman, “Photo taken in the mid to late 60's, Kiddie Park area”

“My mother reminded me that I was three months old when we moved to Coney Island. My father took this photo of me at Astroland in the mid to late ‘60s. My brother Perry used to work in Astroland operating the Skyride. My mother was so scared of the ride she used to squeeze my hand while we were riding.”

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Astroland Remembered Photo Contest

Honorable Mention: Omar Robau, “Shooting Gallery”

"Walking through Astroland was always a novelty for me. No matter how many times, and there were so many, I would always feel that sense of nostalgia in the present. Coney Island, as a whole, felt like that to me. As if the past was in constant connection with the present and the future. This photo represents the variety of people with the variety of reasons for them enjoying Astroland on a variety of levels. For me, it ran deep for some unknown reason. An unknown but strong kind of love. Walking through there today still gives me that nostalgic feeling because the presence of Astroland, can still be felt there."

posted Oct 24th, 2018 in News and tagged with Astroland, Astroland Park, 10th Anniversary,...

Coney Island History Project Multilingual Brochure

The Coney Island History Project is seeking part-time interviewers to conduct audio interviews for an oral history project in the Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods of Coney Island, Bensonhurst and Gravesend.

Interviewers must have professional or academic training and experience in oral history, interviewing or radio reporting. They will conduct, record and edit audio interviews in English or another language for which we require interviewers such as Russian, Chinese, and Spanish. Interviewers are paid by the hour for the interview and editing. Additional work transcribing and translating the interview is also available. This project is ongoing and scheduling is flexible. Interviews along with transcripts are posted on our online oral history archive at https://www.coneyislandhistory.org/oral-history-archive. For info on our oral history program, see the article in the Fall 2018 issue of the U.K. Oral History Journal [PDF - page 25].

Desired skills:

- Fully proficient in English and at least one other language such as Russian, Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin), and Spanish, or another language for which we may require interviewers

-Training and experience in oral history, interviewing or radio reporting

-Provide samples of previous interviews or audio recordings

-Experience with recording equipment and digital editing

-Ability to work independently

-Excellent written and communication skills

HOW TO APPLY

Please send cover letter, resume, links to previous interviews or audio recordings to coneyislandhistory[AT]gmail[DOT]com

posted Oct 21st, 2018 in News and tagged with oral history, bilingual, interviewers,...

Coney Island History Project Walking Tour

Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson leading a workshop and walking tour for teachers as part of the Brooklyn Public Library's Brooklyn Connections, a professional learning program for educators

Stroll through Coney past, present and future with the Coney Island History Project Walking Tour! This year, visitors from near (New York City, Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey), far (California, Florida, Louisiana and Oregon) and around the world (Costa Rica, England, Germany and Spain) joined our weekend tours. Among the groups for whom we conducted special tours this season were the Brooklyn Public Library's Brooklyn Connections, a professional learning program for educators; the Historic Districts Council’s Six to Celebrate, a preservation advocacy initiative; and Transition Network, a national organization for women over 50. School groups, company outings, and private groups celebrating reunions and birthdays also joined us for special tours.

Offered year-round, our 1-1/2 hour, wheelchair accessible tour includes a private visit to the Coney Island History Project's exhibit center. Tours are based on History Project director Charles Denson's award-winning book Coney Island: Lost and Found, the interviews from our Oral History Archive, and other primary sources. Visit our online reservation site to see the walking tour schedule and purchase advance tickets online. Tickets are $25 and help support the free programming of the Coney Island History Project, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization.

All Coney Island History Project Walking Tours are weather permitting. If a tour is cancelled due to the weather forecast, ticket orders will be refunded. If you have a question or you would like to schedule a private tour or group visit, please email events [AT] coneyislandhistory [DOT] org.

posted Oct 21st, 2018 in Events and tagged with Tours, Walking Tour, Coney Island,...

Astroland Remembered Photo by Charles Denson

Photo: © Charles Denson

"Astroland Park, created at the dawn of the space age, mirrored the wide-eyed optimism of the early 1960s and helped Coney Island survive the closure of Steeplechase Park," writes Charles Denson in Coney Island and Astroland.  

On Saturday, September 8, the Coney Island History Project will open special hours to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the closing of Astroland Park, Deno's Wonder Wheel Park will have a free movie screening in the Astroland Rocket, and former Astroland employees are hosting an Astroland Reunion in Coney Island.

From now through September 29, the public is invited to enter the Coney Island History Project's Astroland Remembered Photo Contest on our websiteEnter the Astroland Remembered Photo Contest! and Facebook page. Share your favorite photos of yourself, family and friends at Astroland taken anytime from 1962 through 2008. Winners will receive an autographed copy of Coney Island and Astroland and a Coney Island History Project Walking Tour for you and three of your friends. Winning photos will be exhibited at the Coney Island History project next season on Coney Island's Opening Day! 

Astroland Remembered Photo Contest

Photos: © Coney Island History Project/ Astroland Archives

Astroland fans, friends and former employees are invited to visit the Coney Island History Project's exhibit center on September 8 from 1-5 PM to view historic artifacts, banners, signage and photos of Astroland's unique attractions including the Astrotower, Diving Bell, Rocket and Sky Ride. Admission is free of charge. Visitors may record their memories of Astroland for our oral history archive and bring photos to reminisce over and scan for our collection. The Coney Island History Project was founded in 2004 by Carol Hill Albert and Jerome Albert in honor of Dewey Albert, creator of Astroland Park.

Ten years after the legendary park's closing, the heritage continues at the Coney Island History Project and Deno's Wonder Wheel Park. In 2014, the History Project teamed up with the Vourderis family, owners of Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, to bring back the iconic Astroland Rocket, which has a new home adjacent to the Wonder Wheel. Originally built as the "Star Flyer," the Rocket was the first ride at Astroland and defined the park's space age theme when it opened in 1962. As one of the first of the "imaginary" space voyage simulators constructed during the Space Race, the attraction showed simulator films of "rocket rides" while the chassis "rocked" its viewers to outer space. 

On September 8, from 12-6 PM, visitors are invited to sit in one of the Rocket's 26 seats and watch the movie The Rocket Has Landed. The 18-minute film by Charles Denson tells the history of the Astroland Rocket and its journey back to Coney Island after being damaged by Hurricane Sandy while in storage on Staten Island. Admission to the Rocket and movie screenings will be free of charge. The giant gorilla from Astroland's Dante's Inferno has also found a new home, outside Deno's Spook-A-Rama, and stands ready to pose for souvenir photos.

Astroland Bumper Cars at Deno's Wonder Wheel

Photo: © Jim McDonnell

When Astroland closed, its rides went to parks around the world and one of the stars from its Surf Avenue gate joined the collection of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Deno's Wonder Wheel Park's Barbieri bumper cars, the largest bumper car ride in New York City, is the only Astroland ride currently in operation in Coney Island.  Go for a nostalgic spin under its magical rainbow-hued pavilion located adjacent to the Wonder Wheel. For ticket info, visit Deno's website. Deno's Wonder Wheel Park is open daily through Labor Day, and on weekends and school holidays  through the end of October.

A group of former Astroland employees has organized a September 8th reunion with a BBQ and music from 2-7 PM at the Unknown Bikers Club on Coney Island's Bowery, next to the Nets store. All former Astroland employees and friends as well as the public are welcome to attend. Donation is $10 at the door. For information, visit the Facebook event page.

Photo: © Coney Island History Project/ Astroland Archives

Photo: © Coney Island History Project/ Astroland Archives

posted Aug 30th, 2018 in Events and tagged with Astroland, Astroland Remembered, September 8,...

Coney Island History Day

[POSTPONED] We're sorry, due to the rainy forecast on Saturday, August 11, and on Sunday, we are postponing our 8th annual History Day event for this weekend. We plan to reschedule it with the same programming for a date in September or October and hope you will join us then. Sign up for our e-news (link at bottom of page) or follow us on social media for updates!

Eighth Annual History Day
Saturday, August 11th, 2pm-6pm
Rain Date: Sunday August 12th

Celebrating Coney Island's Immigrant Heritage!
 
At Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and
The Coney Island History Project
 
Free Live Music, Entertainment and History!
 
Hosted by Deno John Vourderis, Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and 
Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project 

In the early 20th century Coney Island's most popular souvenir photo-stand props consisted of small boats named The Mayflower. Recent immigrants could pose as Mayflower passengers, freedom-seekers  celebrating liberty on the shores of the World's Playground.

For more than a century, Coney Island served as the true historic "melting pot" for New York City's immigrant population.  It remains a place of great diversity, where people of small means enjoy an affordable day of free recreation on the beach and Boardwalk. Coney Island continues to be a destination for immigrants, the place to assimilate with people of all nationalities. It's where they finally find true freedom and become Americans.
 Coney Island History Day

Enjoy History Day performances by musicians and dancers representing the traditional culture of countries from which people have emigrated to Coney Island:

Mariachi Real de Mexico de Ramon Ponce -  New York's premier mariachi  - 3:00PM

Brighton Ballet Theater School of Russian Ballet - Local students from school founded by Irina Roizin perform classical ballet and Ukrainian folk dance - 3:30PM

Paolo Buffagni - Modena-born tenor moved to New York to take up a career in opera and lives in Sunset Park - 4:00PM
  
New York Music and Dance Organization - Bensonhurst-based Chinese dance troupe founded by Julia Liu - 4:30PM

Gaston "Bonga" Jean-Baptiste -  Master Haitian drummer  - 5:00PM
 
-Plus DJ Joe Gonzalez, special guests and table top displays representing New York City's immigrant diversity including the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, Center for Traditional Music and DanceBrighton Ballet Theater School of Russian Ballet and New York Music and Dance Organization. Desert Island, a store in Brooklyn featuring illustration and comic art from around the world, will distribute free copies of their Coney Island-themed issue of Smoke Signal.
 
-Record the names and memories of your family's first visit to the World's Playground and scan their photos for the Oral History Archive at the Coney Island History Project 

Father Eugene Pappas
 - On History Day, Father Eugene Pappas, Coney Island native and pastor of Southern Brooklyn's Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church for the past 35 years, will broadcast a live radio show from Deno's Wonder Wheel Park about Coney Island's immigrant heritage. The radio show will be from just after 1pm until 2pm on WNYE COSMOS FM Hellenic Public Radio  and will be followed by his opening remarks at 2pm on the Dreamland Plaza Stage. Guests on the radio show will include Dennis Vourderis of Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project. Tune in at 91.5 or listen live at cosmosfm.org/podcast.
 
The opening ceremony at 2pm will be followed by Free Live Entertainment from 3-6pm on the Dreamland Plaza Stage located at 3059 West 12th St next to Deno's Wonder Wheel Park (between Bowery Street and Boardwalk).
 
About Deno's Wonder Wheel Park
Built in 1920, Deno's Wonder Wheel is the iconic centerpiece of the Coney Island skyline and the heart and soul of the amusement and entertainment district. Deno's Wonder Wheel Park founder Denos D. Vourderis, the 8th of 22 children, immigrated to the United States at age 14 to pursue the American Dream. He was born in Greece in 1920, the same year as the Wonder Wheel that he would buy in 1983 as a wedding ring for his wife, restore to its original state and build his park around. Deno's Wonder Wheel Park has the best selection of rides for kids and over 21 thrilling attractions including the classic haunted house dark ride, Spook-A-Rama, and Stop the Zombies, a state-of-the-art virtual reality interactive ride, game and movie in one air-conditioned theater. The park is owned and operated by Dennis and Steve Vourderis and their sons, the second and third generations of the Vourderis family. Deno's Wonder Wheel was designated an official New York City landmark in 1989 and West 12th Street, between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk, was co-named Denos D. Vourderis Place in 2001. Deno's Wonder Wheel will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2020. 

Coney Island History Day
 About the Coney Island History Project
The Coney Island History Project is a not-for-profit organization that aims to increase awareness of Coney Island's legendary past and to encourage appreciation of the Coney Island neighborhood of today. Located on West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, our exhibition center is open free of charge on weekends during the summer season. Emphasizing community involvement, the History Project records and shares oral history interviews; provides access to historical artifacts and documentary material through educational exhibits, events and a website; and teaches young people about local history and develops programs in conjunction with local schools, museums, and other organizations. Our multilingual offerings include a brochure in 10 languages, English and Chinese language walking tours, and oral history interviews recorded in several languages. The Coney Island History Project was founded in 2004 by Carol Hill Albert and Jerome Albert in honor of Dewey Albert, creator of Astroland Park.  Executive director Charles Denson is a Coney Island native, a noted historian, and the author of the award-winning book Coney Island: Lost and Found.
 
Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and the Coney Island History Project
3059 West 12th Street, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY 11224
D, F, N or Q train to Stillwell Terminal
Phone: 347-702-8553 (Coney Island History Project)
Phone: 718-372-2592 (Deno's Wonder Wheel Park)
http://www.coneyislandhistory.org
http://www.denoswonderwheel.com
events[AT]Coneyislandhistory[DOT]org

DCAThe Coney Island History Project's programs are supported in part by public funds from the NYC Dept of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the NYC City Council, New York City Councilman Mark Treyger, and our members and contributors. 

posted Jul 26th, 2018 in News and tagged with Coney Island, immigrants, History Day,...

Estuary Day

You're invited to the 4th annual It's My Estuary Day on Saturday, May 5, from 8:00AM-3:00PM, a day of service, learning and celebration along Coney Island Creek in Kaiser Park! The free event will include underwater robotics, oyster monitoring, diving demonstrations, water chemistry techniques, seining, microscope viewing of plankton, displays by environmental organizations, host talks, coastal clean up, lunch and networking.

Featuring over 40 partner organizations, this annual community event is organized by the Cultural Research Divers, BMSEA (Brooklyn Marine STEM Education Alliance), and NYSMEA (NY State Marine Education Association), and hosted by Making Waves, a coalition of stewards caring for Coney Island Creek and Kaiser Park, of which the Coney Island History Project is a member.

It's My Estuary Day

Stop by the Coney Island History Project's table to learn about our free programs, including the new exhibit "Coney Island Creek and the Natural World," opening Memorial Day Weekend. Pick up a copy of the Coney Island CreekWalk at Calvert Vaux Park booklet produced by the History Project for Partnerships for Parks. We'll have bilingual interviewers in attendance to record your stories in English, Russian and Chinese about the neighborhood and the Creek for our Oral History Archive. Visitors may also take a self-guided walking tour by following the markers created by the Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project for CreekWalk at Kaiser Park.

 

posted May 1st, 2018 in News and tagged with

Coney Island Creek

The Coney Island History Project's special exhibition for the 2018 season, opening Memorial Day Weekend and on view through Labor Day, is "Coney Island Creek and the Natural World." Coney Island is best known for its magnificent artifice, a manufactured reality and fantasy world that replaced the vibrant natural environment of sand dunes and salt marshes that existed before development began 200 years ago.

Very little of that environment has survived. The towering sand dunes were flattened, and the wetlands were filled in for development leaving the island vulnerable to storms. Even the island's world-famous beach is artificial, created with sand hydraulically pumped from offshore shoals. 19th century painters and photographers were able to capture images of a beautiful landscape that was about to be transformed forever as an isolated sandbar was transformed into the "World's Playground."

Ironically, the much-maligned estuary known as Coney Island Creek has become a key to understanding what was lost to development and what can be restored for future generations. The creek and its parks represent the true essence of Coney Island. Once a pristine salt marsh consisting of more than 3,000 acres of wetland habitat, Coney Island Creek was the original attraction at Coney Island, attracting anglers, hunters, writers, and artists to hotels along the creek's shoreline.

For the 2018 season we are planning a multi-media exhibit, curated by Charles Denson, called "Coney Island Creek and the Natural World" consisting of maps, photographs, posters, art, artifacts, oral history, and video. Among the rare treasures on display is Coney's "first admission ticket," the wooden 1823 sign from the Creek's Shell Road toll house advertising the rates for horse and rider and coaches. It is Coney Island's oldest surviving artifact and part of our permanent collection.

The exhibit describes the flora and fauna of the island's environment as well as recent environmental projects that are restoring habitat once lost to development and pollution. Through the lens of history, art, and ecology, we will explore Coney Island's transformation and why it's important not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

The Coney Island History Project exhibition center is open free of charge on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day from 1:00PM-7:00PM. We're located on West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, just a few steps off the Boardwalk. View historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and films of Coney Island's colorful past. Visitors are invited to take free souvenir photos with the iconic Spook-A-Rama Cyclops and an original Steeplechase horse from the legendary ride that gave Steeplechase Park its name. The History Project is open year-round for our weekend walking tours and group visits, and for oral history interviews.

posted Apr 10th, 2018 in Events and tagged with Coney Island Creek, history, art,...

Coney Island Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

There's lots to do from spring through the beginning of summer in CONEY ISLAND!

Here's the Coney Island History Project's selected list of FREE upcoming events in the community:

April 12 - "Rise above the Tide" Community Imagination Workshop, Coney Island YWCA

April 16 - Chess Workshop, Coney Island Library (Mondays thru May 21)

April 21 - Family Day Block Party, Coney Island YWCA

April 21 - Immigrant Heritage Walking Tour in English and Mandarin, Coney Island History Project

April 23 - Senior Education Day, Coney Island Anti Violence Collaborative

May 5 - 4th Annual It's My Estuary Day, Kaiser Park

May 13 - Mother's Day Karaoke, Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

May 13 - Horseshoe Crab Monitoring, Kaiser Park (May 13-June 30)

May 26 - Coney Island Beach Re-opens for Swimming

May 26-28 - Exhibit Center Season Opener, Coney Island History Project

June 3 - Coney Island Reggae on the Boardwalk

June 9 - 8th Annual Pet Day & Costume Contest, Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

June 16 - 36th Annual Mermaid Parade, Coney Island USA

June 17 - Father's Day Karaoke, Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

June 22 - Coney Island's First Fireworks Show of 2018 (Fridays thru August 31)

June 22 - Fireworks Friday Karaoke, Deno's Wonder Wheel Park (Fridays thru August 31)

For Coney news, events, conversation, photos and special features like "On This Day in History,"

follow the Coney Island History Project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Coney Island History Project

posted Apr 10th, 2018 in Events and tagged with Coney Island, community events, free events,...